Friday, September 16, 2011

Red Risotto

Beth's Shrimp with Risotto and Red Peppers
My mom's write-up on my recipe that I "invented" many years ago. 

                 Despite the no-cheese-with-fish-or-seafood dictum of  the Chopped demagoguery, I love this dish devised by my daughter, Beth. Anyway, would those arrogant experts chop such a delicious dish as this even though its two components, one with shrimp and one with Romano cheese,  are prepared separately then only served together? They have done that. But I’ve decided they’re hypocrites. Watching a Chopped episode today, I saw one of the judges heap praise on a contestant who used the sardines from her food basket for a different spin on Caesar salad. And I thought, Wait a minute. Classic Caesar salad successfully combines – and I mean, really combines – anchovies and Parmesan cheese. Is that a culinary heresy?
                But I digress. Beth’s lively Red Risotto never fails to awaken my jaded old taste buds when the other members of my kitchen repertoire seem boring and bland (maybe I’ve gotten too accustomed to Mexican and Indian food to enjoy humdrum dishes anymore). Dried red pepper flakes perk up the the thawed-out Costco shrimp that have to stand in for the fresh-caught kind. And they do double duty in the sauté for the risotto. More red comes in to the rice mixture to as a counterpoint to the heat, in the form of  fresh tomatoes,  plus a handful of refreshing shredded basil, both of which are tossed in after the risotto has cooked to -- quoting the inimitable Rachael  Ray -- “hang out” for five minutes while the shrimp is grilled.
              For me, the dish is perfection as is. But last night, needing to use up some of the gorgeous red peppers I’d roasted, I added half of one to add a little sweetness. Next time, for a fifth red element, I may get carried away and add some chopped sun-dried tomato to the mix. Maybe I’m watching too much Chopped.

Beth’s Shrimp with Risotto and Red Peppers

½ lb. shrimp
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 or 5 cloves of minced garlic
red pepper flakes to taste
1 medium onion, chopped
3 or 4 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 red bell pepper, chopped
red pepper flakes, to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup Arborio rice
¼ cup dry white wine
3-1/2 cups vegetable broth
½ cup grated Romano cheese
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
handful of basil leaves, sliced
sprigs of basil for garnish
salt and pepper 
Marinate shrimp in lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and red pepper while preparing risotto.
Put broth in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. In a large skillet, saute onion, garlic, and red pepper with red pepper flakes in butter and olive oil in large skillet until onion is translucent. Add wine and cook until almost evaporated. Stir in rice. Add broth, about ¼ cup at a time, stirring constantly, over medium to medium-high heat. When broth is absorbed and rice is al dente, stir in cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat, stir in tomatoes and shredded basil, cover, and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat lightly oiled ridged grill pan and grill the shrimp until done and slightly browned. 
Plate the risotto, top with shrimp, and garnish with sprigs of basil.

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